IN the build-up to the election that never was, the Government agreed to fund London's Crossrail scheme. Meanwhile, the price of petrol and diesel, inflated by recent tax increases, is now hovering around the £1 a litre mark.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that many drivers are very angry that the large sums they spend on fuel appear to be totally detached from the transport services provided for them.
This year, Yorkshire's motorists will pay the Treasury about £3bn in fuel duty and road tax. Yet the amount spent on the county's roads will be only £500m. And, as revealed by the Yorkshire Post's Road to Ruin campaign, only a small fraction of New Labour's public transport subsidies will find their way to the county.
Investment is heavily concentrated in London and the South-East, on large schemes such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which has cost an enormous £5bn enough to build two M62s. The 2012 Olympics, set to burden taxpayers with at least another £10bn, will drain further funds into the capital. The cost of the Crossrail scheme has been estimated at £16bn enough to build 1,000 miles of motorway and eliminate congestion on Britain's trunk routes. Cost overruns could easily take the cost much higher, to perhaps £20bn or £30bn.
Gaps in Yorkshire's transport infrastructure leave the county's economy at a competitive disadvantage. In many places the road network is more like that of a developing Eastern European nation than an integral part of the world's fifth largest economy.
Sheffield and Manchester are perhaps the two largest cities in western Europe with no direct motorway connection. Travellers must choose between the dangerous and tortuous Snake and Woodhead Passes or divert 30 miles north to use the M62.
Then there are the poor links to the south. The M1 is indirect, unreliable and overcrowded, while most of the A1 has yet to be upgraded to motorway standard. With just two lanes in either direction, motorists are stuck behind overtaking lorries for much of their journey.
Problems aren't confined to the motorway and trunk road network. The maintenance of local authority roads is often appalling, particularly in South Yorkshire. In many areas it is necessary to swerve to avoid potholes, even on main roads. This is excusable in poverty-stricken Africa, but not in 21st century Britain.
Then there is congestion. It has now spread out from the larger cities to small towns and sections of rural motorway.